The year starts with a cryptogram that is easy to solve. In 1817 English novelist Jane Austen sent an encrypted letter with new year’s greetings to her niece. Can you decipher this message?
First of all, I wish all my readers a happy new year! Thank you for reading this blog and thank you for writing several hundred comments in 2018. I hope, you will keep on reading and commenting in 2019.
Here’s another famous person I had never heard of, before I learned that she has a connection to crypto history: Jane Austen. According to Wikipedia, Austen (1775-1817) was “an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. […] Her use of biting irony, along with her realism, humour, and social commentary, have long earned her acclaim among critics, scholars, and popular audiences alike.”
The reason why Jane Austen is interesting for this blog is that in 1817 she sent an encrypted letter to her 8-year-old niece Cassandra Esten Austen. This story is told in an article published on Mental Floss in January 2018. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
As the recipient of the letter was eight years old, it comes as no surprise that the encryption method Austen chose was very simple. Even if you are not an excellent codebreaker (like the ones I mentioned in my blog post about the Golden Alice Award), you should be able to break this encryption. I’m sure, there will be more difficult challenges on this blog as the year moves on.
Further reading: A beautiful encrypted postcard from Australia